“Me too.” Just two words and I waffled over whether to post them for over 24 hours. Not because I didn’t meet the qualifications, but because I felt that I barely met them. On a scale of 1 to 10, harassment to assault, (which should probably be more like a scale or 8 to 10 because it’s all incredibly damaging) I was entry level, at best. And what right did I have to equate myself with women have borne the full brunt of what misogyny can do? Because yes, I have laughed off uncomfortable commentary, I have invoked non-existent boyfriends/fiancés/husbands to escape the advances/offers of men who cannot grasp the concept of an unclaimed woman, I have changed subway cars to avoid being alone with both too many men and too few, and although I never feel particularly unsafe in New York City, I am I never not aware that I need to be very aware of where I am and who’s around me at all times. Because to be caught slipping, is to be caught. Which can almost sound like victim blaming, I know, until you realize that this walk we’re trying to navigate is paved with ice and littered with banana peels and marbles. We are all slipping. All the time. It can’t be helped. The odds are just not in our favor. And the devastating truth is that for me to have lived this long with no major violation is not normal. I have lived an exceptionally lucky life to be able to say that nothing has ever happened to me. So how dare I post, “Me too” when nothing has ever happened to me.
Except… and then I remembered.
I was 20 when my parents divorced and my mom, sister and I moved into a house a few blocks from my grandma. My sister and I brought our bedroom furniture in the move, but my mom left all hers behind, so since she didn’t have a bed, she slept in my room in my bed and I slept on the couch in the den. No problem, no big deal. Until that early early morning when I woke up and felt someone standing over me. I don’t remember what time it was, but it was still dark and all I could see was the outline of a family friend. Someone who had known me since I was child and had been staying with us for a few weeks, sleeping on an air mattress in our living room. But now he was standing over me. And then kneeling next to me. And then jacking off. And I was just laying there. Frozen. Pretending to still be asleep while trying to filter through and regulate so many thoughts… what is he doing here he thinks I’m asleep should I scream I have to still be asleep I don’t know how to scream I’m not breathing I have to breathe so I can scream but it might just make him mad he’s not hurting me stop breathing so hard you’re supposed to be asleep heart slow down he’s gonna hear you and know I’m not asleep and if he knows I’m not asleep breathe don’t breathe scream don’t scream just wait just pray just God please please God please… and then I heard a door open. And I could hear my mom moving down the hall. He heard it too and laid down on the floor. And we were both frozen. Both waiting. Listening. But she didn’t come all the way down the hall, she had just gotten up to use the bathroom. We both listened as the toilet flushed, the bathroom door opened and my mom’s footsteps started retreating back down the hall. She wasn’t coming to save me. So I had to make a break for it. With him still lying on the floor, I sat up, threw myself over the back of the couch and ran down the hall. My mom was just climbing back into bed when I burst into the room, shut the door behind me and collapsed against it, “He… I was… and then he… he…”
He didn’t hurt me. So nothing has ever happened to me. I even remember thinking at the time, “Wow. It took twenty years for something that kind of bad to happen to me… and it wasn’t that bad. I’m so lucky.” And I still am. So damn lucky. That that is the worst thing misogyny has done to me.
Except it’s not. The actual worst thing misogyny has done to me is to make me feel legitimately lucky to have moved through this life relatively unmolested. Because it’s all relative. So fucking relative that not having been physically sexually harmed by a man is not the expectation, but the exception. There is something wrong when I consider myself extremely lucky, fortunate, blessed to have made it safely thus far; when the disrespect, denigration and devaluing of women is so commonplace, so usual, so expected and so extreme, that my experience doesn’t even rate to me. Because I know what’s out there and what’s happening to women everyday. Everywhere. In every industry. And so I know I have a lot of nerve posting “Me too,” when all things considered, nothing has ever really happened to me.